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Sotheby’s wins lawsuit over disputed Frans Hals painting

Plus: Art Berlin fair cancelled permanently | and cave painting found in Indonesia believed to be world’s oldest narrative art

12 December 2019

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Sotheby’s wins lawsuit over disputed Frans Hals painting | A judge in London’s Commercial Court ruled yesterday that Fairlight Art Ventures must reimburse Sotheby’s for reversing the sale in 2011 of a painting attributed to Frans Hals after its authenticity came into question – the question of the painting’s authenticity has not been addressed by the ruling. The auction house brokered the private sale of the work, which was consigned jointly by Fairlight and London art dealer Mark Weiss, and which had previously been acquired from Giuliano Ruffini, a French dealer who is alleged to have sold dozens of fake Old Master paintings. Sotheby’s reimbursed the private buyer in 2016 and subsequently sued the consignors for refusing to accept liability; Weiss settled with Sotheby’s for $4.2m earlier this year. In a statement, Fairlight has said that it ‘felt that the facts of the complex case and the relevant law argued against its legal liability, and is disappointed that the judge did not recognize the merits of its case’.

Art Berlin fair cancelled permanently | Gerald Böse, CEO of trade fair organiser Koelnmesse, which runs Art Cologne and acquired Art Berlin in its inaugural year of 2017, has announced that the Berlin fair is permanently cancelled. Art Berlin was the German capital’s primary art fair but it experienced a lack of financial support from local government, as well as suffering disappointing profits and issues securing its venue of three years, Tempelhof airport, for the 2020 edition. 

Cave painting found in Indonesia believed to be world’s oldest narrative art | Archaeologists have published an article claiming to have discovered the world’s oldest piece of narrative art: a cave painting found on Sulawesi, an island governed by Indonesia, believed to be 44,000 years old. The dating was achieved by measuring the chemical composition of calcites that had formed on the surface. The panel, which the team from Australia began studying around two years ago, is some five meters in width and appears to feature wild pigs and buffalo being confronted by semi-human, spear-bearing figures.